Apr 14, Colombo: A section of the mountainous landfill in a suburb of Sri Lanka's capital Colombo caught fire and collapsed killing at least two people and burying an estimated 40 low-income homes as the country celebrated the dawn of a traditional New Year.
Many people were injured and at least six persons were admitted to the National hospital following the collapse of the 300-foot high garbage dump in Meethotamulla Friday afternoon.
A 12-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl died at the Colombo National hospital where 10 others were being treated after being rescued, hospital spokeswoman Pushpa Soysa told AFP.
Fire fighters rushed to the site and the Army was called in to help dousing the fire. Sri Lanka Air Force has deployed a Bell 212 helicopter with a Bambi bucket to control the fire.
A contingent of Army personnel of the 14 Division of the Security Force Headquarters - West (SFHQ-West), including Officers rushed to the garbage dump at Meethotamulla this afternoon to assist the police and fire fighters on rescue efforts.
On a Presidential directive, hundreds of tri service personnel, Policemen, Special Task Force (STF) personnel are currently engaged in relief operations after evacuating the victims as well as their valuables from affected houses in close coordination with the workforce of the Disaster Management Centre (DMC).
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire and authorities are not certain how many people were inside the shanties buried in the garbage pile.
Dozens of homes collapsed after heavy rains overnight caused the garbage mountain to shift, officials said. It became further destabilized after a fire broke out, triggering landslides that buried dwellings.
Police said the true scale of the damage remained unclear and the search for survivors is under way.
Families living in the area have been protesting for years against adding garbage to the landfill. Close to 50 houses located near the garbage dump collapsed in 2012 displacing the people.